Women are three times as likely as men to get painful, debilitating migraine headaches.
Now, scientists at UCLA say they know why and that is already leading to promising new treatment. The problem, they say, is based on a phenomenon called "cortical spreading depression" or waves of electrical activity that move across the brain very slowly as you see here in studies on mice.
No one knows what triggers the waves, but researchers at UCLA say they've found a drug that blocks the waves. In a study there, memantine, a drug that is already used to improve memory in Alzheimer's patients, cut migraines in half among women who were taking it.
"The main message that I would want to give to patients is that they simply shouldn't just live with their headaches," says Andrew Charles, UCLA Headache Research & Treatment Program.
"It's heaven absolute heaven. I have my life back," says Jodi Fleming, a migraine sufferer in the study.
The drug memantine is also known as Namenda isn't FDA approved for migraines - yet. But Dr. Charles says he is hopeful help is on the way. For now, he says one of the best things migraine sufferers can do is to have as much consistency in their lives as possible: that means meals at the same time, even caffeine intake, at the same amount and the same time every day.